Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Lying Dog

Renn is an entertaining fellow even when he is still. How he sits and lies is different than my other cats, and he doesn’t much care about how he’s perceived. The two photos immediately below show him rather intense in his observations. I’ve mentioned before that he enjoys watching things. He studies animals, objects, people, learning how they move and act. This requires concentration.

But much of my big boy’s time is spent in relaxation. The top of the tallest cat-tree is a favourite resort of his. There, he can flop himself down regardless of opinion.

This does not mean that he doesn’t act similarly where he may be seen. Renn is a contortionist of sorts and, though I find it hard to credit that these postures are comfortable, indeed, not painful, he nonetheless appears to find them most enjoyable.

I’ve published pictures of Renn and Tungsten lying together in the armchair. The first two are typical of their positions. The last one is when my big boy’s contortionist tendencies get the better of him. Tungsten looks to be discomfited but still indulgent of her friend’s habits.

The drawer in the micro-wave oven stand has always exercised a mild fascination for the cats. It is a junk drawer, and, between the times at which I clear it out, the beasts like to dig for treasure in its collections. Periodically, they will lie down in it. Renn is the first to sleep in it. He may seem rather too large for its confines, but I learned long ago that cats like a constricting space. Why, I don’t know.

We find our pets an endless source of amusement. They are always providing us with entertainment and fun, and, sharing my house with roommates such as Renn, it’s little wonder that I don’t need television.


Cammie is now free during each day, even workdays when I am not at home. She can roam the house, causing anxiety to Tucker just by walking by him and occasionally chasing Bear-Bear. The other night, she trapped him in the space under the stairs where the litter-boxes are, and wouldn’t let him out.

But during the night, she is still locked in the back parlour. That will change in a few weeks. I am having the basement re-floored. The carpet, which is less a comfortable covering for concrete than a monument to cats’ intestinal weakness, will be replaced with a type of linoleum. That will occur, I hope, in the middle of September. I figure that several alterations may as well happen at once, so until then, Cammie will stay in the back parlour at night. She doesn’t seem to mind that too much as long as she can have the freedom of the house during the day.

It means her litter-box stays in the parlour, too. I will make the gradual change of moving that downstairs after the new flooring comes. There’s no point in getting her used to going downstairs to relieve herself, only to disrupt it for a few days.

But this means that a litter-box remains conveniently placed for lazy cats who could go downstairs but don’t want to trouble themselves. They don’t always use it, but when they do, Cammie is quite annoyed. She is getting used to it. But she still dislikes such presumption, and in this photograph, she is letting my Chubs know it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Calendar Girl

The rescue group with which I work, the Lethbridge PAW Society, is bringing out their second annual calendar next month. It features twelve of the cats who were rescued by and later adopted from the group. This year, my oldest cat, my first cat, Tungsten, is featured in a month. Actually, she’s in two places, since the calendar needs to have pictures on the front and back covers and their insides, but each month has a beautiful picture of a PAW cat. I thought I’d show off all the images that were taken of my orange one, ending with the photo chosen for the month of October. The pictures for the calendar were taken by Ms Tanya Plonka, of Puppy Love Pet Photography. As you can see, she did an excellent job; I’d recommend her photography to anyone who wants a permanent record of their special pet. And if you want to purchase a calendar ($10, plus a bit for shipping if you want it mailed), visit the PAW website ( The money goes to the Society, of course.

The first picture I’ll show is Tungsten looking a little melancholy while resting her head on my knees. You can see the dark circles within the irises of her eyes. The veterinary told me some time ago that those come simply with age. You may also detect that her left pupil looks larger than the right. There has always been something wrong with it in that it looks broken or cracked. It has never bothered her, though, so far as anyone can determine. It doesn’t interfere with the pupil’s workings, nor let more light in than should get to her eye. She seems to see just fine.

This next shows my tiny one rather kitten-like; I think it’s because the image makes her legs look stubby.

These two were unsuccessful shots of Tungsten, who didn’t cooperate as well as she might have during some of the session.

The photo immediately below seems to depict her about to sneeze, but it’s a cute one anyway. This is the photo used elsewhere in the calendar behind an explanation of what the PAW Society does.

This next picture wasn’t bad. It’s a typical likeness of Tungsten.

Also typical are the following two.

But the photograph that is being used for the calendar proper is this one. As anyone who has a cat (or several) knows, cats do smile, and it does seem to reflect a genuine good mood in the little creatures. Sometimes, I will hold Tungsten in front of a mirror and she can see the two of us together, and she smiles. Other times, she just wants to be put down. Now and then, she has no sense of occasion. Anyway…here she is on the pillows of my bed, where she likes to snooze. She was evidently feeling indulgent when this picture was taken, because she posed well. This is Tungsten, the orange heart of my life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The BB

Enough of Cammie, what about Bear-Bear? I’m sure everyone is asking. Well, maybe not. But it’s time to catch up with the BB, regardless.

My male guest-cat is doing well. He had been picking on Tucker for some time, as the two vied for the penultimate position in the hierarchy, neither wanting to settle for last place. The roly poly one, after all, had been fourth out of four for some time, and didn’t like the idea of some newcomer stepping on his head as he ascended the totem pole.

Bear-Bear would provoke Tucker, following him menacingly but rarely doing enough to cause a fight. If any of you have ever driven a long distance with two children in the back of a car on a hot summer day - or been one of two children in the back of a car on a hot summer day - you will recognize the general situation. Tucker had started to hide from Bear-Bear, and took to lying at the top of the tallest cat-tree to avoid being ambushed.

Then, I noticed that for about a week, Tucker had not been acting that way. He would lie on the floor, in a normal way, while the BB passed by him. He clearly didn’t like the new boy, but neither was he hiding, nor was he scurrying away. Bear-Bear, for his part, was not bothering the roly poly in the same manner. Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t strife in the land. Yesterday, I came home and found that Tucker’s nose had been scratched. Then, I observed that Bear-Bear’s had been gouged. Clearly, differences remain. But these don’t bother me. The odd row will occur, claws will come out and perhaps even blood will be drawn. Last night, however, hours after their skirmish, neither cat seemed overly aware of the other’s presence.

As for the other matters, though Cammie likes to snarl at the boys, the BB is gaining ground. He likes to sleep on the bed with me at night, and has moved from being enthused over Almo chicken drumstick flavour to Fancy Feast ‘chunky’ chicken. He is eating well.

He remains a little sad, it seems. It may just be his expression. He needs a full-time person of his own, and until he finds one, this foster-cat will stay somewhat wistful, I think. But despite his age (a mere ten years, though many people think that is old) and a rather rough appearance, I have hopes that this very friendly, very people-oriented cat will find his permanent home.

Her Regrettable Lapse

Cammie is a strong-willed little creature. She knows what she likes and what she dislikes, and will let you know which is which. However she was treated before coming to stay with me, she needs to demonstrate that she is not afraid of anything. She will hiss quite readily, not to show hostility so much as annoyance or displeasure. If I am blocking her path, or merely taking up too much of it, she will pass me with one, two, three hisses as she goes, but then permit me the honour of stroking her smooth little head a second later.

But some nights ago, my guest-girl let her guard down.

We have been having an inordinate number of thunder-storms this summer. August is now hot and dry, but for the first week, and throughout July, the weather was unusually heavy and wet. One night a storm rolled in long after bedtime.

Cammie is still confined at night to the back parlour. I feel that she needs to get more used to the perma-cats before her release is constant, and I like, if not to be supervising her freedom, at least to be present during it. So, while I sleep, she is in the isolation ward.

She dislikes thunder, and this night, the thunder was near and loud. It woke me up but, surprisingly, didn’t trouble most of the cats overly much, though I know they could have done without the storm. Cammie, in the back parlour, was crying. I went to see her. There was no false bravery about her now. She whimpered and stayed close to me, very close. She has yet to lie next to me under normal circumstances, but this night, she pushed herself against me. Any closer and she would have been on the other side of me. At one point, she jumped down to the floor and squeezed herself between my feet.

But I knew what she really wanted. I opened the door, and she hurried downstairs, where the sound of the booms was muffled, where she felt safer. I let her remain there until morning.

When the dawn came, the skies were clearing, and the scent of fresh rain was strong outside. Cammie was, with the other beasts, awaiting her soft-food breakfast when I woke. She consented to be petted, but she kept her distance from me, and hissed at the other cats. Things were as they had been. Some day, she may allow me to sit very close to her again, this time without her being afraid.

Until then, she’d prefer me not to write about her regrettable lapse.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cammie Purrs!

Cammie is slowly making progress in her integration with the other cats, and with me. I think I’m the easier prospect, though. She has little problem letting me pet her now, though she doesn’t always like lengthy sessions. The new girl first grew used to me simply being present, then in walking by her and, latterly, in sitting by her.

Last night, she was relaxing on the ottoman in the parlour, lying on a comfy, furry pad that would seem far too warm to use in the summer. She likes it, however. I sat beside her and talked to her for a bit, then extended my hand for her to sniff. Right now, she is rather like Renn in that she likes to be sure of what’s coming at her before she allows it. It may be, unlike my big boy, just a passing phase for her. But then she nudged my hand, telling me to pet her. When I did, she started purring.

She may have purred to a small extent previously while I had been petting her, but if she had, it had been too quiet for me to hear. This time, it was a steady rumble, low but definitely audible. This is the first time I’ve heard her purr since coming to stay with me. Then, to keep me in my place, she hissed at me and got down to eat something.

I think Cammie hisses more than most cats, at least at this stage. It strikes me that she hisses at anything she dislikes, even for a moment; other cats, mine at least, not considering such times worth a hiss. I will still respect her reactions, of course, but I believe that in her new situation, she feels a hiss is called for when other felines may simply turn away.

In any case, her purrs are a good sign, demonstrating that she will accept certain things in her new world, that she knows some things are good and pleasant. Over time, I think she will find more and more of that sort, and will purr more, too.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cammie on the Road to Integration

My newest foster-cat, Cammie, is doing well. The back parlour is still her preserve, and her refuge when she wants to feel safe, but its door is open to the rest of the house now, whenever I am home. I don’t think she has ever met other cats, perhaps didn’t know they existed, and then she was confronted by five. They trooped into the parlour one after another to check out the new creature living there.

That was a couple of weeks ago. Cammie is used to the others but doesn’t like them much. There is a great deal of hissing, especially with the boys - Renn, in particular, is miffed because the window seat in the parlour is often taken by the new girl - but there has been no fighting. Bear-Bear has been receiving the most hostility from Cammie, who will chase the BB from one room to another. There is, however, little anger on the new girl’s part, at least that I can see. She seems annoyed with Bear-Bear’s proximity and makes it clear to him that he should give her space. I think if the BB didn’t move fast enough, though, he might be encouraged with a claw or two in the bum. Nonethelss, I’m not worried. Bear-Bear’s personality is a strong one but not violent or aggressive in any form. Cammie chases, he runs. Still, it must provide Tucker with a glow of Schadenfreude, since Bear-Bear enjoys annoying him, too.

Aside from Renn and Bear-Bear, the other cats hiss at Cammie and are hissed at in return. Josie sometimes hides under a chair when the new girl is loose, but that isn’t a big problem. Tungsten indulges her usual full-face scowling when confronted by Cammie, but that doesn’t stop her from eating from the newcomer’s food-bowl, or using her litter-box, the latter activity seeming an outrageous act of lèse majesté to Cammie.

Cammie is not a timid cat. She has taken to exploring the house, looking into all the rooms she can, probing closets and climbing cat-trees. She loves her Fancy Feast and trots out to the kitchen to wait when I prepare it, braving the presence of all the other felines to do so.

Reluctant to be petted, she now submits to that contact, and even seems sometimes to enjoy it. She no longer hisses at me as I pass her, and is used to me coming and going. I largely ignored her for the first couple of weeks, talking to her but otherwise leaving her alone, letting her see that I was harmless as I went about my business. Leaving the door to the parlour open has assisted the transition, as she now hears and sees much of what goes on in the household, and can grow accustomed to it. 

She is a smart animal, learning quickly the important things in life: the sound of dishes being filled, the words ‘dinner’ and ‘snack’ and knowing to use her litter-box, even if some interlopers feel that they can use it instead of trekking downstairs to use their own. Her progress would be facilitated greatly, I think, if she could move into a foster-home with fewer cats and a person or two who could devote more time to her. Even so, I think that she would do adequately in a multi-cat home, though patience would be required for her to grow used to everything. That needs to be done at her own pace. Some cats respond to a little prodding; Cammie isn’t one of them.

Given time, however, I think this beautiful, intelligent and small creature will bestow her affection on a lucky individual. I think she’s a choosy one, though, so it may not be me.


Just a brief article this time to publish how Tungsten is doing in her fight against hyperthyroidism. Her appetite is much closer to what it was a year or two ago, before her condition took hold. She is eating well, but not a great deal and, though I want her to eat more, it is in fact now almost back to normal for her, and is a good sign, really. She looks forward to her soft meals, and eats kibble, so she is not off her food. This is a good sign, too.

The best sign that she is holding her condition’s effects at bay is her weight. She is slowly re-gaining her lost tonnage and the food she eats is doing her tiny body good. She was set on the scales a week ago and she tipped them at just over three kilograms. That’s more than a pound packed on since her most alarming weight of 2.53 kilograms, and just half a pound less than what she was when all this trouble started to take its toll on her.

I don’t know if she will ever re-gain her full weight; she is, after all, older now and may not incline to that as she ages, but on the other hand, another half pound is certainly not unrealistic, and I would love to see her that heavy. She needs all the weight she can get. But for now, I am pleased that she has passed the three kilogram mark.

And one other survivor. My ancient micro-wave oven, which I thought had been knocked out by the recent hail- and rainstorm, was not killed. Rather, the socket into which it was plugged was done in, along with another socket. I’ve not heard of such a thing happening; I checked the breakers and everything seems in order. I don’t know if individual sockets can be rendered useless without the breakers indicating it. However, for the moment, a long extension cord will bring the old appliance back into use. That oven will outlive me, I expect.